In January 2019, we organised a week-long series of events called Grow Change! We are big believers in changing the narrative of the dominant market forces and Grow has been set up as an experiment to challenge the status quo. Together, with others passionate about the themes of ethical economics; community resilience and gentrification; education out of the institution; climate action and skill sharing we came together to see what more we could do to change the story.
Over 300 people passing through the doors to share experiences, knowledge, skills, music and art... Read below to find what was shared. We’ve incorporated our learnings into designed our programme across the year to keep the momentum going so sign up for our newsletter to find out more and for the dates.
Ethical Ecomonics (Tue 15 January 2019)
Grow believes in a system where planet, people and profit are in complete harmony and balance with one another. This isn't a utopian dream but an essential and fundamental requirement in building a sustainable world. We want to explore the possibilities. This event brought together the people working on changing the narrative of economics with small groups forming at the end of the session in order to formulate an action plan for instigating local change!
The panel was facilitated by Hannah Gardiner, local resident and Consultant and Innovation Manager of Shared Assets who shared her own expertise as well as enjoyed the guest speakers shared their knowledge and experience.
It was a packed house as Reuben Jacobs of Grow kicked off by summarising global economic landscape (inspired by his studies and book ‘The Heretic’s Guide to Finance’ by Brett Scott) - this was no mean feat given the short timeslot. He also talked about where Grow’s money is spent and how investing in ethical companies diverts away from the mainstream. We then heard the rest of panel talking about their inspiring projects which made a very real and tangible difference in their communities and networks. With Sarah Henderson - Director of Operations of Echo (Economy of hours) talking about alternative currencies, Rebecca Trevalyan - Director of Library of Things, sharing the lifecycle of this innovation project (the clues in the title) and David Clarke - Head of Policy @ Positive Money UK also about how Positive Money campaigns for a money and banking system that enable a fair, sustainable and democratic economy.
The event was a great mix of optimism and enthusiasm for the potential alternative economic models and also demystifying of what can be a complex topic. Our next event on ethical economics is on Tue XX March and focuses on ethical products and picks up the idea of ethical investment.
Community Resilience (Wednesday 16 January 2019)
This evening was about bringing people from across London who run community spaces and/or projects to share stories and experiences of gentrification in their area and how they have responded. The focus was on how, during these difficult times of rent hikes; community displacement and pressure, we can keep going, still build resilience and work collectively. An installation of of films where on show to help us better understand the commonality of the issues and the very real effect on the lives of people affected .
Stop Mass Evictions from Ridley Road Shopping Village Also a Change Petition (so please sign)
Dalston Lane terrace – a short film to highlight to plight of this Georgian terrace which has since been redeveloped with 100% private flats and expensive shops
Film by documentary maker, Joan Hillery and filmmaker and dancer Lucy Thane - Dancer and Filmmaker (not currently available online)
Other films not shown on evening, but of interest:
Dalston Arts150 a film to raise awareness that buildings in cultural uses in Dalston are under threat of redevelopment
Save Our Heritage - a film about Dalston’s local cultural and architectural heritage to support the 2012 Olympic bid and “regeneration” locally
We then heard the experiences of the guest speakers listed below, as well as many others who joined in to tell their story. It became clear, the need for support and solidarity for each other is vital and in a variety of ways. The panelists showed an passion and absolute commitment to their project which shone through all their stories.
However, the reality is is that is hard in the face of gentrification and whilst operating within a dominant economic system which sees land (and space) as a financial transaction and not in terms of its for social, community and welfare value. This has had a devastating effect on the lives of many, of which Grenfell Tower is a undeniable example. It became clear as the evening grew on that more support network is needed - emotionally, physically, legally and politically - which we must all continue to strive for, and demand where necessary. However, it’s also vital that we share experiences, learnings and resources and even just having social time together including a dance (thanks to the tunes of DJ Ian Soloman-Kawell) as this does help build resilience! The conclusion was we need to support each other as much as we can and that’s why we’ve organised a Grow Change! ‘Solidarity and Support’ event on Tuesday 9 April 2019.
Huge thanks to all those who came, especially the panel (below), whose stories of resilience and action gave us inspiration and hope:
Richard Couldrey - Transition Hub - London & SE & Transition Town Tooting
Lucy Thane - Dancer and Filmmaker - I am not a Village
Bill Parry-Davies - Dalston based Solicitor involved in multiple campaigns to help save East London spaces
Joan Hillery - Documentary Maker
Ian Solomon-Kawall - May Project Gardens
Education out of the Institution (Thurs 17 January 2019)
We invited Julia Bell, novelist, poet, essay writer and MA in Creative Writing course leader at The Birkbeck College UoL to join with Dan Coombs, Artist, Senior Lecturer at UEL and co founder of the Turps Banana (the alternative art school), to talk about their experiences of the higher education system and what has lead them to investigate alternative educational strategies in their respective fields.
With both entirely different approaches - Julia spoke about her disquiet at the current strategies in higher education- seemingly towards a more money-lead selection system, and the difficulties experienced by tutors in fulfilling unreasonable expectations dictated by high course fees; going on to read an excerpt from her recent TLS published essay ‘Back Of The Class’, dealing with personal experience of prejudice at an Oxbridge interview. Dan gave us a whirlwind history of the Turps school, full of often humorous anecdotes about YBA’s, but, crucially, barbed with the disaffection and reasons that drove the group of founding artists to form an artist led college outside the mainstream art education system.
Here, both speaker’s paths crossed, and, after closing remarks, the debate was thrown open to the audience, with an informal Q&A and sharing of individual attendees’ accounts of their education experience and discussion of possible solutions to the problems encountered. The evening continued to close, with various sub groups forming across the floor to engaging in lively discussion about the possibility of forging viable alternatives to the current education system.
Building a Rebellion - Climate Action (18 January 2019)
2018 was pretty heavy with the IPCC report indicating that the world had less than twelve years left to change everything to mitigate climate breakdown. As a result citizens across the world began to rise into action. Extinction Rebellion - a British-born movement for direct climate action shut-down five London bridges in an act of civil disobedience, to demand the government act urgently to the crisis. Since that day they have become the fastest growing climate movement in history and continue to grow rapidly. In response to this existential crisis Grow invited Extinction Rebellion to co-host an XR print workshop, a talk from XR rebel Roman Paluch-Machnik followed by a party. This gave our community of activists an opportunity to unite and let off some well deserved steam. Since then XR hosted a successful Hackney Street Block Party in Dalston, which along with local campaign group Sustainable Hackney helped influence Hackney Council's Mayor - Philip Grandville’s recent decision to declare a climate emergency with a motion to follow. If you would like to be involved in the XR movement locally click here. Grow continues to support the movement and welcomes their International Rebellion Day on 15 April 2019.
Skill Sharing Saturday (Sat 18 January 2019)
For the final day of a week long series of self organised workshops/talks/parties, Grow invited the Hackney Wick community to share their skills with each other. These workshops included I am Not A Village dance workshop with Lucy Thane & Tania Soubry; An introduction to permaculture with Grow’s Sam Smithson and Salah Hammad; Splicing rope with Big John; Collage Poetry with Grow’s Jordanna Greaves; Sociocracy with Les Moore; Making a podcast with Grow’s Pete O' Dublo & Sara Karpanen - podcasters from Wick Radio.
Since this skill sharing day the East London Permaculture Group was launched in February, who meet the second Thursday of the month at Grow and have various live projects planned for the year. This week to celebrate #Internationalwomensday Grow has organised ‘If you only read one book... club' with special guest Sara Karpanen from Podcast ‘Women of the Wick’ this Friday 1pm-2pm and Sunday 2:30pm-5:30pm for a panel discussion and live performance.